PEABODY — For many, Black Friday shopping is about camping out to be the first to enter a mall full of discounts and deals, but for Maureen Hastings and her family, it’s about tradition.
Hastings, a Peabody native, started shopping at the Northshore Mall when it opened in the 1950s. Now that she and her two daughters live in New Hampshire, they take the trip down to continue their longstanding shopping tradition on the morning after turkey day.
“We’re very traditional in the sense that we can’t deviate from the plan,” said her daughter, Jessy Christo, who has memories of shopping in the early morning hours going back to when she was as young as her own 9-month-old daughter, Amelia.
“We start at Macy’s and make our way down,” she said.
Her nephew, Connor, 10, finds he annual event fun, but likes to decompress at the Lego store when the shopping becomes too much.
“We’ve been doing this our whole lives,” said Hastings. “We came when my daughters were babies and now we’re coming with their babies.”
Another family tradition continued at the mall with a Long Island clan competing in their fifth annual black friday scavenger hunt.
Ticking off items from a list ranging from taking a picture holding a tray of free samples, to dramatically sampling Bath & Body Works lotions in the store, Ryan Coveno was enjoying his first year joining in on the antics.
“You never know what these guys are going to do,” said Coveno.
Debbie Ferlito of Peabody shopped with her daughter, Courtney DeCicco and her two granddaughters Ava and Isabella. She said she enjoyed spending time with three generations of her family, getting the good deals, and kicking off her Christmas shopping.
Sisters Keeley Burke, 14, and Teagan, 16, traveled to the mall from Rye, New Hampshire to experience the craziness they’ve only heard about in person.
“You always hear the stories – we wanted to see what it was all about,” said Keeley.
Mall manager Mark Whiting has spent two decades in his job and said there’s an ebb and flow to high traffic patterns. College and high school students tend to be there to bust down the doors at 12:30 a.m., when the mall opens. By 3 a.m., they burn out and head home for a nap.
A new wave of customers appear between 4 and 5 a.m., typically family members who shop every year. By 8 to 10 a.m., families of all ages with strollers are hunting deals. Those bargain shoppers typically give up and go home for breakfast, and another rush comes around lunchtime, he said.
“We had a tremendous level of foot traffic at 12:30,” he said. “It was larger than years past. It’s impossible to quantify how many people were here, but we’ll get a sense of how it translated into actual sales late Monday.
“It’s phenomenal, really, to see all of this,” he said. “We want to create that iconic moment where all the doors open at the exact same time. We don’t want one entry point to open a millisecond before the others. And then you see the mothers and daughters, uncles and aunts. It’s really spectacular.”